Like many other teams wanting to hang with run-and-gun Konawaena over the past decade, the Waiakea Warriors tried to slow down the pace, create a tight, low-scoring affair and put themselves in a position to win in the fourth quarter.
Waiakea executed that game plan fairly well, but unfortunately for the Warriors, the Wildcats proved just as proficient running their halfcourt offense as they are running the fast break Friday in a girls basketball game at Kealakehe.
Chanelle Molina scored 13 points, and Konawaena survived a cold-shooting third quarter to beat Waiakea 41-31 in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I semifinals.
Konawaena (9-0), West Hawaii’s No. 1 seed, will return to Kealakehe at 7:30 p.m. today to face East Hawaii top seed Hilo (11-0) in the BIIF final.
Both teams will represent the league in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state tournament, which takes place Feb. 5-8 on Oahu.
Waiakea finished its season 7-4.
Konawaena got to the BIIF final by showing patience in the halfcourt offense, with Hoku Liftee often finding teammates cutting to the basket for easy layups.
“We pretty much have to read what the defense is giving you,’’ Liftee said.
The senior finished with five points, five assists and six rebounds, helping Konawaena shoot 55 percent (11-of-20) in the first half to take a 26-11 lead at the intermission.
The Wildcats did benefit some from their transition game, scoring six fast-break points in the first half, but they also rebounded the ball well, creating second-chance points for themselves and very few for Waiakea.
Senior Courtney Kaupu (eight points) had five rebounds, while freshman Ihi Victor (10 points) and Molina had four apiece.
“We ran a lot of different sets in the first half (to get good shots),’’ Konawaena coach Bobbie Awa said. “We had the shots in the second half. We just didn’t hit them.’’
Konawaena went 1-of-10 from the field in the third quarter, but Waiakea wasn’t much better, going 1-of-5.
“If we made our free throws and made our layups, it would have been much closer,’’ Waiakea coach Grant Kauhi said of his team, which went 4-of-11 from the charity stripe.
Sophomore guard Kaydee Rapozo led the Warriors with 11 points. The second of her two 3-pointers made it 39-27 with 1 minute, 25 seconds remaining, but Waiakea got no closer.
Senior Daven Namohala-Roloos added eight points.
Like Liftee, Waiakea senior Sefulu Faavae also got her teammates involved, finishing with four assists and seven rebounds.
“She’s a very unselfish player,’’ Kauhi said. “She finds the open person. We just didn’t finish.’’
Waiakea 7 4 8 12 — 31
Konawaena 15 11 4 11 — 41
Hilo 81, Kealakehe 17: Freshman Alexis Pana scored 19 points as the Vikings secured their first state tournament berth since 1996.
Senior Shalyn Guthier, junior Alyssa Perreira and freshman Faith Loeak added 10 points each for Hilo (11-0), which kept the Waveriders (0-9) off the scoreboard until midway through the second quarter.
The Vikings will face Konawaena at 7:30 p.m. today in the Division I final.
Kealakehe 0 4 8 5 — 17
Hilo 22 25 20 14 — 81
Stephens Media’s Matt Gerhart contributed to this report.